The old saying goes “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, to which I say “well kinda”.  If you’re trying to achieve your best body (and if you’re not, get on it) the most important meal of the day is your post-workout meal.  You see, after you workout (and I’m talking a real, taxing workout) your muscles are broken down and you’re depleted of glycogen, so you need to eat to feed your body’s needs ASAP.  And by ASAP I mean right away, like within 30 minutes (I usually eat my post-workout meal within about 5 minutes).

Okay, so how do we eat to repair our muscles and restore glycogen?  Well we need to make sure we eat two things, protein and carbs, and make sure we avoid one thing, fat. You want to avoid fat because it slows down digestion. Normally this is a good thing (it helps us stay fuller longer), but in this case we want our meal digested quickly so our body gets what it needs.  Since time is of the essence we need to have some quick, no-brainer meals on hand, and in my humble opinion the easiest thing to do is prep a couple staples on a Sunday evening to eat all week.

The prep work. Prepping your food doesn’t have to eat up all your time, just a couple hours. Cut up some veggies, boil and mash some sweet potatoes, cook a few servings of brown rice, hard-boil some eggs, bake a couple chicken breasts and read on to learn how to turn them into simple post-workout meals.

Wrap it up. Fill a multigrain wrap with some shredded chicken breast, your favorite veggies, and a little mustard and you’re done. Eating your post-workout meal within five minutes of dropping your gym bag on the floor? Not too shabby. (photo credit)

Egghead. Grab four hard-boiled eggs, pop the yolks out, and eat while you microwave some mashed sweet potatoes (don’t overdue with the sweet potatoes, measure out half a cup), add some cinnamon and eat.  I know this probably seems like an odd combination, but trust me.  The cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes taste dessert-like, and you’re post-workout meal is about giving you what you’re body needs anyway, so give it a try. (photo credit)

Tune into tuna. Single serve packets of tuna are a Godsend.  Easy to open, you don’t have to drain them, and they are packed with protein.  I like to add brown rice and a touch of fat free Italian dressing (or even just a squirt of lemon), mix it around and call it a day.  Well not really a day, but you know what I mean.

Savor some salsa. I’m kind of in love with salsa… as in I eat it with a spoon and call it gazpacho.  Now I can’t eat salsa alone for a post-workout meal (well I could, but that would accomplish nothing), so I add it to chopped chicken and brown rice (or shrimp and brown rice if I’m so inclined).

Buffalo soldier. Still have some chicken breast left?  Great. Nnow shred it, toss it in a little Frank’s Wing Sauce and throw it in a whole-wheat pita or on top of a plain rice cake.

I understand that not everyone is into “leftovers” (although I’m not sure you can call them that if you made the food with the intent of eating it on a future day, but we’ll leave that debate for the philosophers), so I’ve included a couple meals you can throw together “fresh” in seconds.

Shake if off. My go-to post-workout meal may not be pretty, it may not be fancy, you may not even be impressed, but I love it and it gets the job done.  The second I’m done with my workout, I drink a protein shake.  I bring my shaker on the gym floor with me, fill it up with water as soon as I’m done with my abs (I finish every workout with two rounds of tabata abs, just in case you were curious), shake vigorously, and drink before I’m even in the locker room.  You might want to wait till you get home and get all fancy with a blender and fruit, go for it.  My protein powder of choice is chocolate isagenix, I 100% recommend it, but whatever you use check the ingredients.  Too many protein powders out there are filled with crap, choose wisely.

Go for yogurt. I’m going to be honest, I hate yogurt, and I’m not even sad about it. The consistency, the smell, the taste, I just don’t get it. In my humble opinion, it’s a lot of yuck.  Well I know some people love it, so who am I to exclude it from my list of post-workout meals?  If you’re going to go with yogurt, do yourself a favor and pick plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Have you seen the sugar content on flavored yogurt?  Yikes. Sweeten it with some fruit or sugar free jam, add some crushed rice cakes for crunch and carbs and you’re done. Easy peasy.

Okay so I’ve given you a week’s worth of post-workout meals; hopefully your brain is going now and thinking of even more protein/carb combos.  Promise yourself you’re going to workout hard for the next week and you’re going to give your body what it needs to recover and get stronger.  What’s the point of killing yourself in the gym if you’re not doing nutrition right?  Give it at least a week and let me know how you feel in the comments. You got this!